Suspension of all strike action is a step closer as date set for ASTI meeting
The special ASTI convention to discuss suspension of all the union's industrial action will be held on June 10.
With talks about to start on a new public service pay deal, to follow on from the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA), the timing of the ASTI convention takes on a particular significance.
The outcome of the pay negotiations will play a crucial role in swaying delegates one way or another.
The convention was forced on the leadership of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) by a grassroots petition signed by about 1,500 members. It will be similar in scale to the union's annual Easter conference.
The ASTI is the only public service union not to have accepted the LRA, as a result its members are not benefiting from improvements in pay and conditions attached to it.
Increasing numbers of ASTI members are weary of their dispute and the losses being suffered by members, which prompted activists to use a union rule to push for the convention.
It is understood that 700 members have resigned from the ASTI since the start of this year because of the dispute, which is affecting newly qualified teachers particularly badly.
As preparations are made for the convention in Citywest, outside Dublin, the proposed pay negotiations are an added ingredient, and could be highly influential in determining the overall mood on the day.
A key factor in the ASTI's rejection of the LRA was the absence of pay equality for new entrants. While there is no guarantee the new deal will deliver on this, the report of the Public Pay Commission noted that teacher unions raised this issue "very strongly" in their submissions.
On June 10, ASTI delegates will debate suspension of all industrial action - relating to both to the LRA and junior cycle reform - pending the outcome of the upcoming public service pay negotiations. At that stage, the outcome of the talks may already be known.
The motion links suspension of action to a proviso that ASTI members are treated equally to those who have signed the LRA. It would be highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for an employer to make such a concession based on suspension of action, but the pay talks may provide a basis for ending the action completely.